How to Freeze Berries So They Don't Stick Together

July 2, 2019

Stock up on fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in the summer while they are at their peak and freeze them to enjoy year-round. This post teaches you how to freeze berries using a few simple steps to maintain their shape and ensure your fruit stays fresh to use in baking and smoothies later in the year.

COOK + BAKE   |   Updated April 18, 2023

Frozen blackberries

Nothing compares to the taste of freshly picked blueberries, raspberries, or blackberrise during their peak summer season.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have your own bushes to gather from, it is well worth your time to visit a local berry farm, farmers market, or search for wild blackberries in your neighborhood. These berries will be packed with flavor that you won’t find later in the year on the grocery store shelves.

We’ve become very accustomed to wanting all our produce to be available year-round, rather than enjoying foods in their specific seasons. This means that much of what we eat is grown in other countries and shipped here at different parts of the year or the food is kept in cold storage waiting to be put on store shelves. For example, the apples that you are enjoying in mid-May from the grocery store were actually picked almost a year ago.

While this may not seem like a big deal, that means the food is not fresh and berries actually lose nutrients as they sit. Plus, traveling great distances gives them more time to dry out and become bruised, while also not making sense for those worried about the environmental impact.

Buying from a local farmer (or growing your own) is always best.

Picking blackberries from bushes to freeze for later

Unfortunately, fresh summer berries have a short lifespan, so you must stock up when you can. The price is also lower when they are in season over trying to buy them in the middle of winter.

If you enjoy eating and baking with berries outside of the summer months or love blueberry pancakes on a regular basis, it is worth it to over-buy and then freeze what you cannot eat.

While berries are best eaten fresh, freezing them for use later in the year is your next best option. Flash-frozen fresh berries do not compare to the frozen berries you buy in the store and freezing preserves their healthy vitamins and nutrients.

In this post, you’re going to learn all about exactly how to freeze blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to enjoy year-round, as well as tips for using the frozen berries later in smoothies, pies, cakes, pancakes, and more.

Baking sheet of frozen blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
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Benefits of Flash Freezing

In the food industry, flash freezing is when food is frozen quickly in cold, circulating air. It speeds ups the freezing process and preserves freshness.

Freezing berries in this manner means that they are spread out uncovered in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet and frozen for a short period of time before being put into containers or bags for long-term storage.

There are a few benefits to the added step of flash-freezing over just tossing the fresh berries into a bag and sticking it into the freezer.


Using the flash freezing method, each individual berry is frozen solid. That means that at any time, you can reach in and grab a cup to add into a muffin batter or smoothie. Otherwise, the entire bag would have to be thawed in order to get what you need because they will likely freeze in a solid clump. So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “How do I freeze berries so they don’t stick together,” the answer is flash-freezing.


Pushing a bag of berries into the freezer when they are soft makes it really easy to smush and damage the fruits. Being frozen solid protects the fragile fruit from being crushed.


In order to see why flash freezing is important, you must understand exactly what happens to the fruit when it is frozen. Berries are juicy and when put into the freezer without flash freezing, large ice crystals form. These ice crystals actually puncture and damage the cell walls of the fruit, leading to a reduced shelf life and softer berry when thawed. Flash freezing prevents these large ice crystals and will result in more uniform berries when added to pies, smoothies or other recipes.

Should You Wash Berries Before or After Freezing?

There is much debate over whether or not you should wash fresh berries before freezing them. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but here are the facts:

  • Moisture is the main enemy of berries leading to freezer burn and a decreased shelf life. It can also add too much moisture to your baked goods later on when they are used. If you are pre-washing, you must get them thoroughly dry before flash freezing by leaving them spread out in a single layer on a kitchen towel or paper towels. You don’t want any water remaining when they are put into the freezer.

  • If you are going to wash the berries, do it right before you are ready to freeze them (keeping the additional drying time in mind) and not when you first bring them home. Washing actually increases the number of bacteria on the berry when allowed to sit, defeating the purpose of washing the fruit in the first place. .

  • Do not use a salad spinner to get the berries dry as they are too fragile and can become mushy.

  • Blueberries have a natural protective coating (known as bloom) and protects against pests and bacteria while keeping the juiciness sealed inside. Washing removes the bloom and can diminish the lifespan of your berries while frozen. .

  • If you choose to wash after freezing, just give them a quick rinse when removed from the freezer and gently dry them off with some paper towel. .

As for what I do, I have never pre-washed any berries before putting them into the freezer and have found them to last until the next berry season (and beyond) without large ice crystals forming.

But again, it is a matter of personal preference. Try it both ways and see what works best for you.

Ziploc bag and container filled with frozen raspberries and blackberries

Supply List for Freezing Fresh Berries

Here is a handy list of all the items that you may need to freeze fresh blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries during the summer season linked to where they can be purchased.

As an added bonus, ALL the items shared below are made in the USA!

How to Prepare Fresh Berries for Freezing

STEP 1: Fully inspect the berries you plan on freezing and remove any stems, leaves, over or under-ripe berries, and any damaged fruit. It won’t get better in the freezer, so it is important to start with the best quality, freshest berries you can find.

STEP 2: Rinse and dry the berries thoroughly if you are pre-washing. Place the fruit into a colander and submerge them two or three times in a sink full of cold water making sure they are clean and free of dirt. Then lay them out in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel to dry. You may need to switch the towel after a while to make sure that they are getting completely dry and not just resting on a damp towel.

Consider how you’ll be using the berries in the future. If they need to be cut into a smaller size, do it now before freezing as it is easier when the berries are fresh.

STEP 3: Line a rimmed baking sheet (having at least a ½ inch lip) with parchment paper or waxed paper. This will keep your berries from sticking to the pan. Make sure that the baking sheet has room to fit while remaining level in your freezer.

STEP 4: Place the berries on the baking sheet in a single layer without touching and freeze uncovered until solid. This normally takes about 3 hours, although blueberries will freeze faster than raspberries or blackberries. You can leave them overnight if that is more convenient but avoid letting them sit for longer than 12 hours to prevent freezer burn.

STEP 5: Remove the baking sheet and quickly transfer the individual berries to a labeled sealable bag or freezer container leaving plenty of room at the top so they don't get crushed. If you have one, a vacuum sealing system like FoodSaver will help you freeze the fresh berries for two to three years, rather than six to twelve months. You’ll want to be sure to label the package with the type of berry, when it was frozen, and make a note about whether or not they’ll need rinsed when removed from the freezer.

STEP 6: Place the container into the freezer. Frozen berries are best used within six months, but should still be tasty a year later following this method if you can’t get them used up in that time.

Helpful Tips for How to Freeze Berries

  • For best results, freeze berries at their peak freshness. Freezing slows down decay making it a great way to extend the shelf life of your produce, but your results will always be best if you are able to start with the freshest berries you can.

  • You can freeze different types of berries separately or combine them if you plan on doing a mixed berry recipe.

  • Don’t store your frozen berries on the freezer door as that exposes them to warmer temperatures leading to them degrading quickly.

  • Unlike vegetables, fruits are no blanched before storing in the freezer because fruit is normally served raw.

  • The texture will not be the same when berries are thawed, so it is best to use them cooked, in baking recipes or tossed into smoothies. If you want to eat the berry as is, it is best to enjoy them as a still frozen treat.

White bowl of oatmeal topped with frozen berries

How to Use Frozen Berries

Frozen berries can be substituted for fresh in most recipes and can be used in many ways. Here are a few suggestions, along with tips for getting the best results:


The texture of frozen fruit adds thickness and coldness to blended drinks without watering them down with ice, making them even better than fresh berries! Simply whirl any ingredients that aren’t berries first in the blender, and then on a slow speed, add the frozen berries letting it whirl until the berries are fully broken down and integrated into your drink.


There is a lot to do in the summer growing season, and standing over the hot stove to prepare jam isn’t always the best use of your time. Freezing berries allow you to save the task for a cool fall or winter day without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. There is no need to thaw the berries before adding them to your pan, although you can if you'd like. Just place them over low heat and stir as they defrost. When their juices have pooled in the bottom of the pan, you can bring the berries to a boil over high heat and continue with your recipe.

You will likely want to avoid adding extra water, even if the recipe calls for it. Frozen fruit retains enough that adding more may keep your jam from setting.


Allow the berries to thaw for just a few minutes. Toss the slightly thawed berries in cornstarch or sugar before adding them into the pie crust or batter. You may find that you need to leave the pie in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes unless you have thawed the fruit to room temperature. The texture of your pie will have a more jam-like consistency because of the softer berries, but otherwise taste exactly the same.


Toss the frozen berries first in a bit of flour from the recipe and then add into your cake and muffin batters to eliminate the possibility of smushing them while mixing. You may need to add an additional five minutes on to your baking time to make sure it is cooked through.


Thaw the fruit in the refrigerator overnight. They will be juicier than fresh berries, so you can expect some color bleed into your breakfast.


Add berries frozen or thawed into your batter circles after you have poured them onto your hot pan. If you try mixing the fruit in ahead of time, you will likely break the berries apart and cause them to bleed color into the batter.



Hands holding fresh blueberries

When are Berries In-Season?

Buying fruits during their growing season means that they will be less expensive, normally better tasting, and full of more nutrients. Peak-season varies depending on the variety you are shopping for and your local growing climate, but here is a general idea of when you’ll be able to find these berries fresh:

  • Blackberries: June through August

  • Black Raspberries: Late July through July

  • Blueberries: Later May through October

  • Raspberries: May through September

  • Strawberries: April through June (although you can plant Everbearing Strawberries to produce intermittent crops through summer and early fall).



Strawberries can be frozen using a similar method as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Cut them into halves, fourths or freeze them whole depending on how you prefer to use them later. Regardless of the size you choose, be sure to hull the berry removing the green top and white center. Whole berries will take longer to freeze than the smaller chunks.


Sugared berries will actually last a little longer than unsweetened, but you’ll have to be sure to account for the sugar you used later when preparing your recipe. Mixing the fruit with sugar draws out the natural juices and creates a syrupy substance that covers and protects the fruit from its exposure to air. They will also retain their color and texture better.

According to research from Penn State University, you’ll want to use about 1 cup of sugar for every 2 to 3 pounds of fruit, though you should experiment and find what works best for you. Mix the berries in sugar carefully to avoid smushing them and stir until most of the sugar is dissolved. Then pack into containers leaving ½ inch of headspace to allow room for expansion. Be sure to label your container with how much sugar was used.

Use the sugared berries within nine to twelve months.


Frozen berries make a delicious treat. Since they quickly lose their texture as they thaw, if you’d like to eat whole berries you’ll want to do it while they are still frozen.

Baking sheet with frozen berries

Freezing berries in this way ensures you are able to enjoy the season's best fruit anytime of the year.

I hope this post has taught you how to freeze berries and inspired you to take the extra steps necessary to gather some fresh ones this summer. Preserve them for the rest of the year so that you no longer need to rely on those that have been packed, shipped, and sitting in plastic clamshell packages or the frozen food section at the grocery store.

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